Hon. J. W. Monteith (Minister of National Health and Welfare):
Mr. Speaker, I wish to announce to the house that the government intends to introduce an amendment to the Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act during the next session of parliament to repeal section 6 (2) of the act, which deals with conditions relating to the start of the shared program. This section reads as follows:
No contributions shall be paid under this act until at least six provinces, containing at least one-half of the population of Canada, have entered into an agreement and the provincial law in relation to those provinces is in force.
It is of course necessary to specify the time at which federal contributions can be made. Therefore a new section will be proposed which will permit any province that has signed an agreement with the federal government and has a provincial law in force to receive federal contributions on or after July 1, 1958.
This amendment will accomplish two purposes:
1. It establishes an effective date for the start of the program, and
2. The start of the program in any one province will no longer be dependent upon the action in at least five other provinces.
This announcement will allow the provinces concerned to plan their budgets now being or about to be considered, without any uncertainty as to the federal government's stand in this regard. I am confident that at least three or four of our provinces will try to be ready by July 1, 1958, and that most, if not all, of the remainder of the provinces will soon have plans in operation.
Subtopic: STATEMENT ON AMENDMENT TO HOSPITAL INSURANCE AND DIAGNOSTIC SERVICES ACT